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How I Got Here: Adore Beauty’s content manager on making the switch from corporate to creative

WORDS BY CAIT EMMA BURKE

“When you face your fears and say yes, there’s definitely pay off.”

Have you ever stalked someone on LinkedIn and wondered how on earth they managed to land that wildly impressive job? While the internet and social media might have us believe that our ideal job is a mere pipe dream, the individuals who have these jobs were, believe it or not, in the same position once, fantasising over someone else’s seemingly unattainable job.

But behind the awe-inspiring titles and the fancy work events lies a heck of a lot of hard work. So what lessons have been learnt and what skills have proved invaluable in getting them from daydreaming about success to actually being at the top of their industry?

Welcome to How I Got Here, where we talk to women who are killing it in their respective fields about how they landed their awe-inspiring jobs, exploring the peaks and pits, the failures and the wins, and most importantly the knowledge, advice and practical tips they’ve gleaned along the way.

This week, Adore Beauty’s content manager, Hannah Furst, tells us how she made the move from a corporate career to a creative, content-driven role in the beauty industry. Post-university, Hannah started out as a management consultant at an accounting firm, but quickly realised that this wasn’t the industry for her, despite studying to be in it for four years.

After this disheartening realisation, she took on several internships to gain experience in content creation, and eventually landed her first full-time content role, but, disappointingly, it was still in the corporate world. Knowing she needed some time to figure out her next move, she took five months off to go travelling, and when she came back, she landed a role at Australia’s number one online beauty retailer, Adore Beauty.

After a year in the role, she pitched a podcast to her boss, who suggested she co-host it with the company’s beauty editor. Despite her reservations about putting herself in the limelight, taking on this responsibility helped her realise this, in her own words, “was the exact career I wanted”. The podcast went to number one in Australia and has since been downloaded a whopping 1.5 million times.

Since then, her career at Adore Beauty has gone from strength to strength, and she now manages a team of six, and together they’ve launched three new social channels and a national television campaign. While Hannah is incredibly driven and creative, she knows that she creates her best work when she maintains a healthy work-life balance – something she admits is particularly challenging when working in content creation.

Setting strict boundaries on work times versus personal time, so she can be at her most productive and creative when she is working, is something Hannah lives by, as is saying yes to every opportunity, particularly the ones that scare you. Here’s what she’s learnt along the way.

What do you do and what’s your official job title?

I’m the content manager at Adore Beauty and I also co-host our podcast Beauty IQ Uncensored. Also, during lockdown, I started my own podcast called Single Minded. I was sick of the media portraying being single as something bad, so I wanted to flip the script on being single. Something I’ve discovered in my thirties is that I can be totally fulfilled and happy with or without a relationship.

Take us back to when you were first starting out. Did you study to get into your chosen field, or did you start out with an internship/entry-level role and climb the ladder? Tell us the story. 

My first job was a management consultant at a Big Four accounting firm. It was so not my vibe. I knew in the first week that the corporate life wasn’t for me, but I was too scared to admit it to myself. I had worked so hard to get to that point – literally four years of uni and about a hundred grad job applications to realise I didn’t like my chosen career path.

I studied finance, but I also knew I wanted to do something more creative. I actually wanted to be a writer when I was young. Back then, there weren’t many jobs in digital content, which is the perfect mix between data and creativity. My CV actually says: “I’m down with data, but I’m also the meme queen”, which sums up a career in content perfectly.

I then did some internships to try and get my foot in the door, and finally got my first full-time job in content, but again, it was in a corporate environment. I knew I didn’t want to stay corporate, so I took five months off to go travelling. I highly recommend taking time off to figure out what you really want to do. I then came back and got the job at Adore Beauty as the social media producer, and now over two years later, I’ve got a team of six and together we’ve launched three new channels as well as our first national TV campaign.

What challenges/hurdles have you faced getting to where you are now? Can you tell us about one in particular?

I never thought I’d end up on camera, let alone hosting a podcast and a YouTube channel. One of my YouTube videos has 100,000 views which totally freaks me out because I don’t know how I feel about that many people watching me talk to the camera. Something else that freaks me out is when I go on dates and the guy says, “Oh yeah, I listened to your podcast… The one where you talk about your beard.” That’s never a fun experience. When you face your fears and say yes, there’s definitely pay off, as I’ve discovered a totally new career for myself.

After a year at Adore, I pitched a beauty podcast to my boss who suggested I co-host with our beauty editor Joanna Fleming. I was thinking, ‘Um, no way… I could never host a podcast. I have no experience.’ Jo and I had the best time recording and producing those first three episodes and I knew this was the exact career I wanted, but as launch day got closer, I basically stopped sleeping. I was terrified as I was putting so much of myself out in the public domain. I talked about my bum hair, chin hair, getting Botox and admitted to using panty liners every day in those first few episodes. I definitely couldn’t go back [to a] corporate [career] once all this was out there. So, basically, it was two birds, one stone.

The response was incredible and the podcast reached number one in Australia within the first five hours and we’ve had 1.5 million downloads to date. It was totally worth not sleeping! Reading my first negative review was crushing. I’ve gotten more resilient to the negative reviews, but they still hurt. I think that’s one of the hardest things: the keyboard warriors!

What do you want people to know about your industry/your role?

Beauty is not what I thought it would be like. I was expecting bitchiness and judgement at my beauty newbie status, but my experience has been the opposite. The people are incredibly kind and supportive, and I’m given total permission to try new things without judgement. In terms of content and social media – it never stops, so while it’s a rewarding career, it can also be relentless. You have to put strict boundaries in place so that you get time away from social media.

What’s the best part about your role?

The podcast! The first segment is called “cringy convo” where we aim to normalise our bodies (and bodily functions), like stretch marks, facial hair, cellulite, farting etc. It’s our version of that show Embarrassing Bodies. We get feedback from women that they feel less embarrassed about their bodies after listening to us chat about ours, which makes it totally worth it. Some of the DMs I’ve received just completely light up my day!

What would surprise people about your role?

Recently I realised that I wanted to have more work-life balance. For me, more balance means more creativity. When I’m stressed and overworked, I don’t do my best work. So, after having that realisation, I recently requested to reduce my workdays to four days a week and to continue to work remotely for the next few months, because I’m heading off on a road trip around Australia once our borders open! I’ll be working on the road from my laptop, which is scary but also exciting.

I think people would be surprised to know that whilst I love the work I do, I am really focused on working to live, not living to work. I have set myself strict boundaries on work time versus personal time. This has also given me the space to start my own podcast, which is on a topic I’m really passionate about.

What skills have served you well in your industry?

You need to be really adaptable and agile – there are new platforms and features popping up every day – it was podcasting last year, and now it’s Tik Tok and Reels. You really need to stay ahead of the game in content. In terms of branded content, I’ve learned to always put the audience first. Don’t create content that centres around brand messages; create content that your audience wants.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to be in a role like yours one day?

So my top three pieces of advice are: 1) Let your personality shine through. Whether that’s on your CV, your LinkedIn, your first IGTV video – get as creative as possible. This is your chance to show yourself and your creative skills off. 2) Go and explore the world. The creativity has been sucked out of me during lockdowns, and it has proven to myself that I need to take time away from my desk in order to be my most creative self. Travelling is my biggest inspiration and when we’re able to travel again, I will be on the first plane. 3) Just say yes. I can’t imagine what would’ve happened if I’d said no to hosting the podcast. My career has taken an unexpected turn and I’m so happy it did.

What about a practical tip?

If you’re not in content but want to be, I would start creating content on your own personal platforms, like Instagram. Film and edit an IGTV. Make it super creative and fun – don’t be afraid to speak to the camera and let your personality shine through. When applying for jobs or internships, you can showcase this content if you don’t currently work in the industry.

@hannahfurst

Read the rest of the How I Got Here series here.

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